The phone rings, it’s a young woman, scared to death with her ex banging on the door threatening her, you sense the worse and after getting her address you quickly dispatch the police while enquiring more. She tells you he carries a knife, so you tell her to lock herself in a room… Moments later you hear the anger fuelled screams of her ex get closer and the racket as he pummels at the door, you check the location of the police and they’re just around the corner, the woman cries for help and pleas with the perpetrator and then, the screams stop, you listen carefully but nothing.
Seconds later the police arrive…. moments pass and you’re informed that the police have taken the man into custody and an ambulance is required, you dispatch the ambulance as another call breaks to tension, this time it’s a lady, asking to order pizza… Mind still on the woman beaten by her husband you instruct the caller not to waste your time…
At the end of the day, you find out a woman was killed in her own home…..
That woman was being held hostage, and her attempt to disguise her cries for help as a call for a pizza fell on death ears….
911 Operator is a pretty strong game, you’re dealing with the emergency services, life and death on every call.. Do you take every call seriously, that young boy asking for help with his Math, the man who claims to be trapped in work machinery but sounds suspiciously calm, do you waste precious time enquiring about details, and do you dispatch the last available ambulance on a call that you can’t be sure is an emergency… These questions are asked of dispatch officers every single day and now it’s your job to make sure the emergency services are in the right place.
There’s 3 modes of play, Career gives you the option of ‘Unique Stories’ or ‘Daily Routine’ or there’s Free Game, which was my favourite, but we’ll get to that a little later.
In Career you begin life in the Hawaiian city of Kapolei, pre-designed before construction it’s much easier to navigate than many so it’s a perfect place to start, but don’t worry because there’s much more of a challenge later on.
You’ll begin with 2 or 3 units for Police, Fire and Ambulance and at the start of the day you’ll be able to position these around the city before starting, the Y button brings up listed jobs or phone calls are answered on the X button. listed jobs will tell you what the emergency is and the icon that appears will be blue, red or white dependent on the services required. Phone calls are green so you’ll have to make the decision on what to send and when, If it sounds serious do you send a second police car, or should you dispatch the police helicopter to that car that’s just been stolen.
Initially you’ll build reputation and funds by completing these duties and at the end of the day, you’ll get a recap of how well you handled each, with reputation gained for a successful outcome, or lost for wasting time on non-emergency calls or failing to pick up on a real emergency.
Raising funds day to day you’ll be able to create additional teams, maybe buy a police helicopter or a first aid kit for your fire team to carry, possibly freeing up the ambulance service for minor situations.
This all helps push the longevity of the game, but the real gem is hidden away under ‘Free Game’.
On Free Game, you’ll immediately be alerted to your nearest major city, for me it was London, but after selecting to search smaller towns, I was able to add Grantham, a place I see more days than not, and obviously I know the roads pretty well, this opened up a whole new dynamic, as soon as a caller mentioned their address, I had an idea if a police car was nearby without even glancing at the map, and while it’s funny when they say number 297, on a road you know only has 20-30 houses, and the realisation that dispatching services around London is easier than the badly designed roads of my local town, the longevity is as deep as your geographical knowledge as you can prompt the game to download new cities and towns each time you play.
Sadly the range of possible calls aren’t gigantic and it’s only a matter of time (usually a day or two) before you hear the same call dialogue, while this does take some of the fun out of it, there’s still so much to do as you slowly raise the funds of your local emergency services and start to build a stronger, more responsive and adequate service.
Unfortunately a game that displays a city map can only be so detailed, pulling in your local road infrastructure, and road names is an impressive feature and one I hope we see much more of, and while it’s not exactly a game you’ll be praying for a One X 4K upgrade, the presentation keeps everything at your fingertips in a neat easy to digest system, Audio is quite impressively done too, while the background music can get a little tedious, the chit-chat of the dispatch radio helps set the scene and although there’s not hours and hours of voice dialogue, what there is, is well done and easy on the ears.